Naushad Huda and Kathy Lajvardi met over a decade ago at a creative event in Los Angeles. At that time, Huda headed a digital brand agency called XTOPOLY and Lajvardi was working in the movie industry focusing in motion graphics. She spent some time in art direction and dabbled on feature film trailers such as Iron Man, while also doing some commercial work for Mazda and Apple. But, it was Lajvardi’s time in concert graphics that led her to work for musical artists such as Madonna and Beyoncé and inspired her to meld music with her art. “She has a unique visionary sense when it comes to art,” says Huda, co-founder of I like this grape, a digital wine source guide, marketplace and community curated by young under-the-radar sommeliers. “Both her and I are big fans of Kanye West – his creativity and impact on culture is incredible.”
So with their digital and creative backgrounds Huda and Lajvardi created I like this grape. The couple’s prime mission: make wine relatable to modern audiences. “My background in digital strategy and consumer experiences helped major brands relate their products/brand to modern-day consumers whose habits and paths to purchase are much different than before,” says Huda. “I did this through research, technology and creativity with a bit of instinct.”
For Huda, this skill set fused with the talents of a stable of sommeliers allowed him to develop I like this grape, which helps wine drinkers better navigate the intimidating wine world. “I strongly believe that these [sommelier] voices need to be heard and content should be created around and with them,” he says. “What we’re doing for wine and sommeliers is like what Food Network did for food and chefs.” I like this grape will host its inaugural event on April 12 at a private residence in Laguna Beach. The evening will fuse full-bodied Spanish wines with Lajvardi’s art and Kanye West’s music. Coast magazine caught up with Huda and Lajvardi to see what they have planned for the gloriously bacchanalian evening:
Tell us how did you first come up with the “I Like This Grape” event series?
We started three years ago with the goal of making wine relatable to today’s audiences and giving young interesting diverse Sommeliers a platform to rise on. … This year the goal is to experiment with live events, but to do it in a way that was creative, in-line with our brand, and fulfilled our goals of making wine relatable, while also giving young Somms a way to shine.
Kanye West’s music is a key element of your April 12 event, how did he come to mind as the perfect audible pairing for this interactive experience?
Both wine and Kanye’s music cross all categories of people, can be integrated into any environment, and are constantly evolving. Using Kanye West as an inspiration gave us a vast sea of music that spreads across many styles. Similarly to great artists that came out of Spain, painters like Picasso or authors who spent a significant amount of time in Spain such as Hemingway, whose art transcend time; we believe Kanye’s music and influence in culture from fashion to music to even stage production will do the same …
Ms. Lajvardi, please explain your technique, how did the music and wine help shape your work?
When I first began this project, I researched and listened to his entire catalog (again!), watched the music videos for each song. I wanted to know and feel the thoughts that went into creating the music. I brought all that to the oil on canvas paintings. The paintings are full of texture and passion. They are sensual, and vibrant, and each tell my story of each song. Of course, there were wine tastings going on… Through Spanish wine I let the rawness of the flavors and stories of these incredible artisans that produce the wine come through in the art.
Mr. Huda, please tell us of other dream SOMMX collaborations that you might develop in the future?
Dream collaborations would be with an artist. Someone who crosses boundaries in fashion, film, food, sports, and music … There are too many amazing artists to name, but of course doing something with Kobe Bryant would be incredible, or the Sachel jazz ensemble would be out of bounds!
Tickets are available online :: ilikethisgrape.com
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